» Subscribe Today!
The Power of Information
Home
The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition
X
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Article
VOL. 38 | NO. 52 | Friday, December 26, 2014

‘Miracle’ courtroom scene might not play today

Print | Front Page | Email this story

“Dear Judge Vic, I am writing about the U.S. Postal Service. My wife and me send several things each month to the same address in a major city in another state. To the home of our kids. A house we’ve stayed at. A place with a porch, where the mail guy leaves packages. A few weeks ago, we sent a box with some presents in it.

“We mailed it with four days to spare. Should get there with time to spare, we thought. We sprung for Priority Mail. We knew this was no guarantee, but it did cost $9, and it did involve a face-to-face transaction with a clerk, who looked at the address label, repeated the address to us, and smiled.

“On the day we wanted it to be there, we called and learned that it wasn’t. Three days later, it was returned to us, stamped UAD (‘undeliverable as addressed’) and ‘Unable to Forward – No Forwarding Address on File.’”

A classic courtroom scene takes place in the original “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947). Fred Gailey (played by John Payne), defense lawyer for Kris Kringle, says, “I’d like to submit the following facts in evidence. It concerns the Post Office Department, an official agency of the United States government.”

He begins to read from an official-looking tome. The gist of it is that the Post Office is efficient, well-run and profitable.

But it’s Christmas Eve, and everyone is ready for the case to be over. So, the prosecutor, Thomas Mara (played by Jerome Cowan), stipulates that the Post Office is a highly credible and authoritative branch of the federal government.

“For the record, Mr. Mara?”

“For the record! Anything to get this trial over with!”

And then a squillion letters addressed to Santa Claus are delivered to Kris Kringle right there in the courtroom.

Monopoly that it once was, the P.O. of my youth was nearby, neighborly and well-thought-of, even when imposing that 1968 increase from a nickel to six cents.

Who’d a-thunk back then that the current era would see a proliferation of private postal services? And a U.S.P.S. teetering on the brink of insolvency?

“I took the package to the branch we’d mailed it at, showed it to a clerk, told him it was the correct address and said if he’d give me $9 worth of stamps, we’d call it even. The clerk referred me to the manager, who assured me that the U.S.P.S. cannot give a refund in this situation.

“‘But I didn’t get what I paid for,’ I said. And then I listened. The carrier in the other state may not have been able to read my handwriting. A lot of temporary workers run routes this time of year. Yes, there’s a machine that can read anything, but they don’t always use it.

“I interrupted. ‘I’m not going to get my money back or stamps, am I?’ The manager shook his head, sadly.

“And my heart broke. Know what I’m saying?”

Yeah. I think I do.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter & RSS:
Sign-Up For Our FREE email edition
Get the news first with our free weekly email
Name
Email  
TNLedger.com Knoxville Editon
RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0